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Chocolate Berry Tart with Pistachio Crust

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Last week marked my second time teaching with Just Simply Cuisine, and I’d like to think it was a great success. I will be providing pictures from both the class and my own recipe testing. There can never be too may pictures of chocolate, and I really challenge you to think of a dessert that isn’t photogenic. The only thing I can think of is baby shower cakes that depict the mother giving birth. And I’d probably still have slice.

Although it may look complicated, this recipe is fool proof. Somehow sprinkling on edible flowers looks complex, and actually takes just a flick of the wrist, while taking the dessert to a new level.

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Pistachio Chocolate and Mixed Berry Tart

Pistachio Crust:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

In a food processor, pulse the pistachios until finely ground. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the granulated sugar at medium speed until pale. Add the ground pistachios, almond extract and salt and beat until combined. Add the flour and beat at low speed until incorporated and the dough is crumbly. Press into a buttered 9-inch tart pan evenly. Gently poke holes into the crust with a fork. Bake in a preheated oven set to 350 degrees for 20- 25 minutes, or until edges begin turning golden brown.

Chocolate Filling:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 10 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 pint of raspberries
  • 1 quart of quartered strawberries
  • Edible flowers (pansies or arugula flowers)

Heat the heavy cream and milk in a pot over medium-low flame, until it simmers slightly around the edges. Remove from the heat; add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smoothed out. Add the sugar and salt and whisk until well incorporated. Beat the eggs in a small bowl until blended and add them to the chocolate mixture, stir until completely blended. Pour the filling into the cooled tart shell and bake at 325 degrees F for 20 minutes until the filling is set and the surface is glossy. Chill in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. Top with berries and edible flowers of your choice.

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Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

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Since I bake so often, and shamelessly self promote this fact, people have come to expect me to have baked goods in the house. But as I have a full time job, and a few roommates who drunk eat anything left on the counter, it’s hard to make time to bake extravagant creations and keep up with the demand.

That’s why I so often simply stick to my favorite brownie recipe and throw in some add ons- from fruit, to candy, to caramel swirls, to all of the above. In this version I stuffed king sized Reese’s Cups between two layers of brownie batter. The final project is irresistible and looks much more complicated than it actually is.

Favorite brownie recipe: http://www.amateurgourmet.com/2013/03/the-best-brownies-of-your-life.html

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New York City

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I haven’t posted anything besides a recipe in a long time, partly because I haven’t been traveling much, and mostly because desserts are more photogenic than I am. However, this last weekend I got take a trip to NYC with Calvin (otherwise known as my token Asian friend).

Although there were some low points, including a post Bolt Bus meltdown and eating Wendy’s twice in one day, there were also many high points. I finally made it to Brooklyn, and was rewarded by seeing Robert Pattinson and Dakota Fanning at Smorgasbord! I’m a bit of a celebrity whore (proud Us Weekly subscriber since 2000) and hyperventilated to the extent that Calvin refused to be associated with me, but we all have our weaknesses.

Even with our Wendy’s indulgence we managed to try two great restaurants, Cafe Mogador and Shelter Pizza. They are about a block away from each other, so I recommend going to Cafe Mogador for their hangover brunch, and then later going to Shelter for their two for one beers.  When on vacation in New York, you always have to post game brunch.

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French Silk Pie

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As of lately I’ve been desperately missing France.  I miss the beautiful patesseries filled with more Madeleines then you could dream of and Sunday falafel trips. I even miss the questionabley smelling metro cars (looking at you RER B) and the crowds of tourists outside of Notre Dame.

The best part about being back is that I can finally cook everything I ate (although I will not be trying to recreate our drunken gyro experiences). This week I made French silk pies. Although this isn’t a French dessert, I wanted to try out the miniature spring form pans I got at Dehillerin. Dehillerin was Julia Child’s favorite kitchen store in Paris, and hasn’t changed an ounce since she was last there.

Dehillerin is famous in part because they don’t post the prices on the items. Instead you have to look up the bar code in huge books. This detered me from checking the cost, and before I knew it I was 50 euros deep in miniature pie tins. Pretty good strategy to make bank on people too lazy to flip through a catelog.

Anyways back to the pie. This pie is indulgent, fairly simple and (depending on the sweet tooth of your guests) a crowd pleaser. It was also the perfect way to try out my spring form pans. I’m pretty sure miniature baked goods are on the level of puppies or babies, cuteness wise. DSC_0692

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Prague

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Prague really surprised me and has actually taken 1st place as my favorite city visited this semester. I mean… it’s no Paris but it actually a close second. I always argue with Glen about which city is better so shhhh don’t tell him how much I like Prague.

My favorite memories include sampling the delicious and creative cocktails at Black Angel, enjoying warm and hearty goulash from a local pub, and going to an ice bar. Obviously the most vivid memories I have from Prague are eating and drinking. The two things I do best.

Because of the landscape everywhere we went offered amazing views. We climbed the clock tour which was a great way to admire the architecture without suffering in the snow for too long. The John Lennon Wall and castle tour were also both very worth while.

I would also highly recommend going to Prague because the price is right. I am really missing the two dollar pints of Pilsner now that I’m back in the land of over priced wine. Plus 50 dollars is equal to 1000 korunas, so in Prague you constantly feel like a balllller with all of the thousands in your wallet.

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Barcelona

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One great thing about the American University of Paris is the two week long spring vacation. Even though I’m only taking three classes, so I’m not exactly desperate for a break. The week started strong as I left immediately to meet Glen in Barcelona. The first day we walked around La Rambla, soaked in the warm weather (a great contrast to grey Paris) and indulged in multiple cones of gelato. At night we went to the Barcelona soccer game which was definitely a great cultural experience, even though I’m not the biggest fan (I need high scoring games to stay interested… ADD much?)

However, that night our trip took an interesting turn. We went out to the famous beach club Opium to meet Glen’s study abroad friends. I don’t typically frequent clubs and I guess I didn’t realize how dark they are. I had just bought a 10 euro drink and my first step on to the dance floor I tripped on some stairs. I was so busy trying to product the expensive drink that I put far too much pressure on my thumb to catch myself. And although I toughed it up at the club that night, the next day the pain was unbearable. A few hours in the ER later and my thumb was determined broken. Now I get to be in a clunky cast for the next three weeks while my thumb heals… So I think it is safe to say that Barcelona officially kicked my ass.

Although we wasted a day in the hospital we crammed as many Gaudi tours and tapas restaurants into the next 24 hours as possible. The highlight of the trip was our two year anniversary dinner at Ciudad Condal. If I could recommend anything from the trip it would be this restaurant. Such authentic, interesting and flavorful Spanish delicacies. And if the food isn’t enough to get you there, the cava is only eight euro a bottle. The best/ only cure for a broken thumb.
The adventures progressed to Prague so for now my spring break is to be continued… More to come in a few days!

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Brussels

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This weekend my room mates and I traveled to Brussels to visit our sorority sister. I wanted to be in Brussels around Valentines day so I could drown my sorrows of being alone in the world’s best chocolate. (Glen had to stay in Prague so I couldn’t spend the week with him). Pretty much a few hours into our trip I had a sugar over load. So mission accomplished, right? The city was beautiful and the waffles, frites and beer all lived up to my impossibly high expectations.

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